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Osage County comes to National

Published June 19, 2008

The National Theatre has confirmed that August: Osage County, the Oklahoma-set drama which won five Tony Awards last weekend, will come to the South Bank in late November.

Official dates are yet to be confirmed, but Tracy Letts’s play will be brought to the Lyttelton by the Steppenwolf Theater Company, which staged the award-winning show in America, for a run of around eight weeks.

The story of a Midwestern American family, August: Osage County follows the Westons, a family unexpectedly reunited after the disappearance of the father. The three sisters all have secrets that don’t want to stay hidden, while Violet is a drugged-up, scathingly acidic matriarch.

Starting life at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, when August: Osage County moved to New York it was described by the New York Times’ Charles Isherwood as: “The most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years.” It went on to win five awards at the 2008 Tonys, including Best Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Deanna Dunagan), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play (Rondi Reed), Best Direction of a Play (Anna D Shapiro) and Best Scenic Design of a Play (Todd Rosenthal).

Speaking at the award ceremony on Sunday, Dunagan said: “This whole year has been entirely unexpected and astonishing. When we started rehearsals in Chicago, a year ago on August: Osage County, none of us dreamed we would be here. I certainly didn’t.” With this London production the dream is set to continue, though casting for the National is yet to be confirmed.

Steppenwolf Theater was founded by Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise in 1974, originally playing in a Unitarian Church before finding a permanent home. Since then it has built a national and international reputation for dynamic productions. It previously brought its production of The Grapes Of Wrath, starring Kinney, Perry Sinise and August: Osage County’s Reed, to the National in 1989. Other British productions include 2000’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, which ran at the Barbican.

This is the second time in recent years that the National has brought a Tony Award-winning show to the attention of British theatregoers, building on the success of musical Caroline, Or Change, which opened at the Lyttelton in October 2006.

It is two-way traffic between the National and Broadway; Jim Norton won this year’s Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for The Seafarer, which originated at the South Bank venue before transferring to the Great White Way.

MA